We spent the afternoon going through my father-in-law's storage unit, sorting through all the garbage to find anything worth saving. It was stuffed to the gills with tools, specimens of minerals and rocks he’s collected over the years, lots of newspapers and magazines. Now that the house is sold, this is the last repository. Martin kept his mining equipment there, but it was stuffed with much more. His dad loved prospecting, but he also loved going out in the hills, digging for agate, jasper, thunder eggs, and especially sapphires. I had no idea he made so many trips to Montana to dig for them. It’s sad… it’s something he and I could have shared over the years, if he’d just told us what he was doing. Such a secretive man. We set aside all of his specimens, but no one in the family shares his passion, so they will probably end up in the dump unless the Boeing club will take them off our hands.

We hauled one load of trash to the Highlands dump, then decided to finish up today rather than come back and get the recycling another day. It only took three trips to get rid of all the paper. Dave suggested dinner and a beer at the Dog & Pony, which sounded great to me. Back to the dump with recycling, then to the D&P. I stayed pretty clean today, but Dave is a grub! Oh well, they won't mind. We got a parking spot (a miracle), cleaned up, and ordered beer and food and settled down for a nice couple of hours.


Grown-up Mac & Cheese

Davey got a treat tonight: I made the Barefoot Contessa grown-up macaroni & cheese. It used every saucepan in my cupboard, but was worth it. The recipe uses three kinds of cheese (Gruyere, sharp Cheddar, and blue), and has bacon. Paired with a big green salad with chicken, it was a great meal. We loved it!


Lunar eclipse

It turned cloudy mid-afternoon, so I didn't have much hope of seeing the eclipse. But by 6:00 pm or so, the eastern sky was clearing up. I went out at 7:00 to look, and there was the moon with a beautiful orange glow as the earth's shadow moved across it. I went back in and dragged Dave outside to see it; being halfway up the hill, our house is in the perfect spot to see moonrise across the front pasture, and the valley. Lunar eclipses take a long time, since the Earth's shadow is so big. I checked it again at 8:15 when I headed to bed to read, and the moon was cut in half: bright below, orange above. I opened up the blinds so I could lay in bed and watch the moon. The eclipse was neat, but the stars were, well, the stars of the show. We rarely see such bright stars this close to the city.

How many cookbooks are too many?

I know what my hubbie would say: if you don’t cook from all of them, you’ve got too many. With that definition, I should sell some of them on Half.com, or offer them to my friends who love to cook. Some would be easy to get rid of: cookbooks I got for shower gifts when I got married, or ones that reflect a cooking style or tastes that have changed over the years. But I have a lot that I use frequently, and will never give them up!

So, answering my own question is tough. I will confess, however, that at present I share my farmhouse kitchen with 102 cookbooks.


Cat spa

The cats got baths today, after Dave wrinkled his nose over James and said, She stinks!" James howled and howled when she hit the water in the tub, not a happy kitty. But she was very good, didn't even try to climb over me to get out. I thought she'd object to my holding her under the faucet for a rinse, but that went fine. It took two big towels to blot her dry (she's a big cat), then I gave her to Dave to hold while Phoebe got her bath. Phoebe was not so good. She didn't howl, but she kept trying to grab hold of me and eventually managed to swarm up and over my shoulder, soaking my sweatshirt! Only one towel needed for Phoebe, she's so small. Both cats spent the rest of the day washing themselves in front of the wood stove.

All of our cats over the years needed a bath at one time or another. Some were good, some weren't. The best was Muffin. She was a grey & tan tortoiseshell cat that I adopted from the Richland Rider's Club stables, just before we moved back to the west side. She loved baths, and would stand in the sink and purr, then snuggle in the towel as I rubbed her dry.

I still remember the first time I gave Taffy a bath. He was the first cat that Dave & I got together, and our first orange cat. He loved to sit on the corner of the bathtub when I took my bath. One day, I scooped him up and dunked him. He was so good about it, just went back to his corner and started grooming himself. With his long hair, you couldn't see his bone structure until he was wet, and he was so funny-looking, all knobby bones. Dave got out a bath towel and rubbed Taffy until he was almost dry. Silly cat…  he came right back to his corner and kept me company!


Beagles Rule

I can’t believe I almost forgot to watch the Westminster Kennel Club dog show…  I never miss this dog show, and remembered just in time.

For the first time in the history of the show, a beagle took Best In Show. And what a Beagle... cute, lively, he owned the show ring. He beat out more than 2600 canines to come out top dog. I think he has the perfect name for a winner, don't you?  Uno... Number One.


False spring

We‘ve finally made it to our false spring (only two weeks late). It‘s odd that it‘s been so mild here in the foothills, when the mountain passes have been closed more than they‘ve been open the past couple of weeks. Saturday afternoon, all three passes were closed. I can‘t remember the last time that happened... with North Cascades and Chinook closed as usual, that means the only way in and out of Eastern WA was along the Columbia River.

Actually, I do remember the last time this happened, but it had nothing to do with winter weather. It was when Mount St. Helens erupted, 28 years ago. The highways between western and eastern Washington were all closed due to blowing volcanic ash.

I‘m taking advantage of the temporary sunshine to plan out my gardening strategy for spring. The goal is to gradually transition the flower beds to low-maintenance plants, with fewer annuals and perennials that need pruning and deadheading. I‘ll probably put in more hostas & lavender this year, plus hellebores (they love the shady beds near the fir trees). And I think I‘ll pull out the old woody lavender, and replace it with new plants that I can keep small.


Men’s weekend… and me

A tradition at Bernie’s cabin is the annual (or somewhat annual) men-only bike trip. It often includes me, since we have the cabin next door. We used to ride with the group, and actually introduced them to our favorite place to ride, Banner Forest. It’s now a favorite with the guys, too.

When we got to the lake, it was shrouded in snow. Snow piled deep around the cabin, where it had slid off the roof. And the lake was frozen, and covered in snow. We've only seen this a couple of times since we bought our cabin.

I wish I'd felt better today. We hung out with the guys, talking and enjoying ourselves, but I wasn't hungry, and didn't want to drink (although I had a glass of red wine with Bernie). They all grilled huge steaks, potatoes, and Greg made a huge green salad with chicken and peppers. We did bratwurst. Everyone sat indoors to eat and talk—with all the snow, it was too cold to be outside (but not too cold to light up the fire and cook outdoors, one of Bernie's favorite things to do!).

I enjoyed listening to them, but I didn't talk much, and once when I was in the kitchen, Bernie came up behind me and whispered in my ear: "You really don't feel good, do you?" Nope. But not sick enough to miss out on a gathering of my favorite guys.

I stayed until 8:30, then gave it up. We only brought one lantern with us, so Dave walked me back to the cabin. Then he walked back to spend the evening down by the fire with the guys.

Sunday morning, the guys walked over to see if we needed help digging the truck out; Dave had moved it up the hill to the turnaround, where we'd have a better shot at the hill, so we had no problems. Bernie said they had to dig out their trucks—they parked one behind the other in a line up the driveway, and the last one in line couldn’t get traction.